I love a gardening challenge and for me growing cantaloupes was a new adventure I was curious to dive into. I had tried in years past with French muskmelons but had no luck getting them to reach full size and ripen.
This season, I selected the variety Minnesota Midget due to its reputation of early ripening and great flavor. I chose to start my seeds at home because I have never seen these starts offered at my local nursery or hardware store.
When all danger of frost had passed and the soil temperature was a steady 65F, I planted my starts outside under a 5 gallon water bottle cloche until early July. I grew two plants in the ground, under black plastic and one in a large black container. All the plants did well but the one in the container fared the best and produced 5-6 perfect little melons.
These softball-size muskmelons grow on polite three- to four-foot vines instead of taking over your whole garden. The melons were very easy to grow and carefree, I did however add a cup of organic fertilizer to the planting hole and watered them with fish emulsion once a month for three months as they grew. The one mistake I made was to over water one of my plants which made the fruit very mushy. Now I know to water the mature plants with fruit sparingly.
Here are three Minnesota's next to a supermarket melon.
Cantaloupes are ripe when they pull off the vine with ease...no pulling should be necessary. You can also tell they are ripe when they are incredible sweet smelling. After picking a few melons and placing them in my car, I immediately noticed the heady fragrance coming from the fruit as I drove home! As of today August 11, 2015, I harvested the last of my two melons.
The melon were very sweet and had a good flesh to seed ratio. They are quite thin skinned but easy to eat with a spoon much like a grapefruit half in the morning. They make for a very lovely breakfast.